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Biographical entry Wilson, Francis Robert Muter (1832 - 1903)

15 March 1832
Low Waters, Lanarkshire, Scotland
9 June 1903
Canterbury, Victoria, Australia
Clergyman and Lichenologist


Francis Wilson, having completed his theology course in 1856, migrated to Victoria and was called to minister successively to the Presbyterian congregations at Camperdown and Kew. His interest in lichens developed during a visit to Scotland in 1884. On returning to Melbourne he became one of the leading lichenologists in Australia, spending the next ten years collecting widely in eastern Australia and nearby Pacific islands. In the course of identifying and publishing papers about his collections, Wilson established working relationships with other Australian lichenologists (Flora Martin, John Shirley and Daniel Sullivan), Charles Knight in New Zealand, and Jean Müller in Geneva. Müller described over 200 new species from Wilson's collections. Wilson sold approximately 20,000 specimens to the New South Wales Government; these are now in the New South Wales National Herbarium. Wilson's widow sold a further 5,000 specimens to the National Herbarium of Victoria, most of which were lost en route to Italy for identification.



Life event - Migrated to Victoria
Career position - Minister, Presbyterian Church, Kew
Career position - Member, Field Naturalists Club of Victoria
Life event - Retired from the ministry

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Published resources

Journal Articles

  • Ralston, Kathleen, 'Francis Robert Muter Wilson: pioneer Australian lichenologist', Bibliotheca lichenologica, 78 (2001), 369-88. Details


Helen Cohn